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The winter months are filled with an assortment of festivities, family get-togethers, and cocktail parties. Our calendars often get so filled up with family affairs that throwing your own bash can seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn't have to be a complicated fete - especially with Brittany Pigorini's fabulous party-planning tips. Brittany is the Founder and Creative Director of Birch and Brass, a vintage wedding event rental company based in Austin. Read on to find out more about her role, as well as her tips for hosting a successful holiday party!
What makes you stand out from other event rental companies? What elements make a party unique and unforgettable?
At Birch & Brass, we provide our clients with hand-selected rentals that truly tie together the look of an entire celebration or event. Whether it's our lounge furniture that offers intimate seating for guests to sit in while sipping on cocktails, or our reclaimed wood farm tables that bring guests together to break bread and form new friendships, we want each piece to be as memorable as possible. Our aesthetic is what sets us apart from other rental companies here in town. I'll never forget someone in my very early days asking why I would open B&B if other rental companies existed already, and I told them that it was like telling a clothing designer not to design their own fashion line because someone else was making dresses, too. I'm often asked what the most important element is for an event, and I'm the first to admit that I don't think rentals are #1. Good music and a fully-stocked bar are going to create the best ambiance for your guests. Once they've enjoyed the dance floor for a bit, they can come back to rest their tired feet in one of our beautiful lounges! Yes, I love a gorgeous and well-styled event, but I do think that the bigger picture items are equally as important.
You have a highly curated collection of vintage goods for people to rent for events. Where do you find the furniture and pieces?
My favorite part of my job will always be the creative aspects: sourcing new items at flea markets, working with my upholsterer to bring them back to life, and piecing together our inventory to create unique designs for each of our clients. I travel far and wide for my inventory because I want to incorporate items that you can't actually find here in Texas. Many of my pieces traveled over from California when I moved here, and I also take trips to the Midwest to bring new pieces into our collection. I love to travel often, so I always bring along an empty suitcase that I can fill up with treasures I find while on vacation, so many pieces have journeyed back with me. It's important to me that we carry a wide variety of items for clients with all different tastes.
What are your tips for planning a holiday event?
Although we don't do any event planning here at Birch & Brass, I always encourage clients to assign seats to their guests. I think that bringing the right people together is very important. I like to think about who would mingle the best, and it's pretty beautiful to watch friendships form thanks to your intentional seating chart. Also, never forget candles! There's nothing I love more than the flickering glow they provide... especially in the cold winter months. Candles always set the mood and make the holidays feel even warmer and brighter.
Holiday Party Checklist:
- Create a guest list. (Overestimate the total number of attendees so you're over-prepared).
- Choose meals that can be made the day before. That way, you'll have less to worry about the day of the party.
- A charcuterie spread is a great menu item - it's easy to prepare and perfect for grazing.
- Make finger foods that don't require utensils. You'll have less cleaning at the end of the night!
- Include vegetarian and gluten-free options on the menu.
- Set up a cocktail bar for your guests to help themselves. Offer infused spirits, precut garnishes, and a few cocktail recipes!
- Create a playlist ahead of time with a wide array of music.
- Be flexible with your party timeline. A no-pressure host is always appreciated.
- For tasteful holiday decor - use fresh flowers, garlands, and greenery.
- Remember to relax and enjoy yourself!
What advice do you have for someone who aspires to work in the events industry?
For anyone looking to enter the events industry, I recommend first getting an internship within the field. I suppose that's true of any career you wish to pursue, but I think that because we post beautiful images every day, people envision that the events world is all unicorns and rainbows. But, only the day-of an event is as picture-perfect as it seems. If you've made it through 14-hour days on your feet with an inquisitive mother of the bride trying to deviate from your entire agreed upon event layout... and you still enjoy every moment of it... I think you've found your calling! It's not for everyone, but it's definitely for me.